How to deal with negative comments about appearance

How to deal with negative comments about appearance

There will always be people who feel they have a right to make negative comments about appearance, whether that’s a supposedly ‘well-meaning’ friend or family member, or a rude passerby.

If your body image is fragile, unwanted comments can be hurtful and damaging. But, while you can’t control someone else’s behaviour, you can control how you respond to it.

Here’s 5 ways to deal with those unwanted comments:

What do the comments say about THEM?

When others judge you in an unkind way, it says more about them than you. Perhaps they have their own body image insecurities and their comments are a reflection of those? Or maybe they are jealous of you and their unpleasant words are a put down to make them feel better? Consider what might be going on with the other person to explain their behaviour.

Their opinion doesn’t have to be your reality

Just because someone has said something derogatory or insensitive about your appearance, it doesn’t make it true. Their words have no power to hurt you unless you decide to believe them. Ask yourself if you really care for that person’s opinion anyway? Then make a conscious decision to let the comment go.

If someone doesn’t like your appearance, it’s their problem

Bodies are not public property to be scrutinised, objectified and judged. If someone doesn’t care for your appearance, that is their issue – they don’t have to look! They certainly don’t have the right to pass comment on something that is absolutely none of their business. If someone says anything offensive about your appearance in public, simply tell them that it’s their problem not yours.

Change the dialogue

If you find that conversations with family or friends can easily turn to talking about your appearance, try changing the dialogue, “There are much more interesting things to talk about than my body! What have you been up to lately?” 

If changing the direction of the conversation doesn’t work, you may need to try being more assertive….

Be assertive

If you find yourself constantly on the receiving end of negative comments about appearance from family or friends, the best approach is to take an assertive approach.

First, calmly and confidently tell the person that you find their comments hurtful by being factual but not accusatory,“Recently you’ve often mentioned that you think I ought to lose weight. I want to talk to you about your comments and how I feel about them.”

Then, express how you feel about the behaviour using ‘I’ statements such as “When you make jokes about me being fat, I feel hurt”. Avoid saying how their behaviour ‘makes’ you feel – this casts blame and will put them on the defensive.

Finally, ask for the change that you’d like to see in their behaviour, “I’m asking that you stop calling me ‘jelly belly’”

If the behaviour does not change, ensure there are consequences. For example, you might stop seeing that person until they stop the unwanted comments.

Your body is your business and nobody else’s. It isn’t public property, and it’s not okay for it to be the subject of scrutiny and judgement. Take a stand against people who think they have a right to make unpleasant and hurtful comments about your looks. It’s their problem if they don’t like what they see– they don’t have to look!

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